Frederick Samuel Fish

Frederick Samuel "Fred" Fish (8[1] February 1852 – 13 August 1936), born in Newark, New Jersey, was an American lawyer, politician[2] and automotive manufacturing executive. Originally a successful corporation lawyer, he entered the Studebaker corporation through marriage and became the corporation's president in 1909 and chairman of the board from 1915 to 1935. He is credited with introducing the manufacture of Studebaker cars, first electric, then gasoline-powered.

Early life

His parents were the Rev. Henry Clay and Clarissa (Jones) Fish. He attended Newark Academy and entered the University of Rochester, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1873. He then studied law, was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1876, and practised in Newark and in New York City from 1876 to 1890.[3]

Political career

He was city attorney of Newark (1880–1884), a member of the New Jersey General Assembly (1884–85) and a member of the New Jersey Senate from Essex County (1885–1887), serving as president of that body during his last term.

Career with Studebaker Corporation

In 1891, Fred Fish married Grace, the daughter of John Studebaker and entered the Studebakers' wagon-making firm as a director and general counsel.[4] In 1897, he became chairman of the executive committee.[5]:p.66 However, he was more than a lawyer—he was an aviation enthusiast, even before the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. In 1895, he was talking about his ideas for a practical horseless carriage and, in 1897, the firm had an engineer working on a motor vehicle.[5]:p.66 He can therefore be identified as the first person to initiate production of motor vehicles at the world's largest maker of wagons and carriages at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1919, his son Frederick Studebaker Fish was listed as a Studebaker director in the company history written by president Albert Russel Erskine.[6]


  • Erskine A R History of the Studebaker Corporation, South Bend 1918 (free PDF download at Google Books)
  • Longstreet, Stephen A Century on Wheels: The Story of Studebaker, A History, 1852–1952, Henry Holt and Co, N.Y. (1952)


  1. ^ Birthdate wrongly recorded as 5 Feb in Conway genealogy
  2. ^ Entry in 'Political Graveyard' register
  3. ^ from genealogical notes at Conway's of Ireland Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine family tree. (NB: Some of the dates in this record have been proved erroneous.)
  4. ^ "Ex-State Senator Frederick S. Fish will leave Newark to become the general counsel of the Studebaker Brothers' Manufacturing Company at South Bend, Ind." NYT City & Suburban News, 26 Mar 1891 (PDF)
  5. ^ a b Longstreet, Stephen. A Century on Wheels: The Story of Studebaker. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 1st edn., 1952.
  6. ^ Erskine A R History of the Studebaker Corporation, South Bend 1918, page 7. (Free download from Google Books)
Political offices
Preceded by
John W. Griggs
President of the New Jersey Senate
Succeeded by
George H. Large